July 2005

Working with Emacs

July 1, 2005 - Categories: development, emacs, opensource

A recent post on the Philippine Linux Users’ Group suggested a
separate plug-emacs mailing lists for all the Emacs messages that have
popped up recently. The suggester said:

There is a
difference between discussion and stroking each other’s ego. :)

Working with Emacs is a humbling experience. It brings you face to
face with accumulated centuries of developers’ work. Emacs involves
people in its development to an unusual extent. Working with vi and
even Eclipse made me feel more like a user than a co-developer.
Working with Emacs made me feel part of the community, even when I was
still struggling to make sense of the parentheses.

If in that sense, Emacs worship is considered ego-stroking, then sure,
I’m guilty. I can’t help but express my appreciation for one of those
things that has really changed my life and made free, open source
software really meaningful to me. For the culture, really, that made
it possible. It’s a piece of software, but it’s also a conversation
with so many developers around the world.

To newbies: if you’re curious about the thrills of open source
development and you want a nice, easy way to get started, why not try
modifying Emacs? It’s easy to pick up. All the source code is there,
and you can modify it on the fly. We’ve had complete non-programmers
try it out and fall in love with programming. They get thrilled when
they share their tweaks and other people respond with comments and
suggestions. This is good stuff. Try it out. =)

I suppose Emacs is off-topic. After all, it’s cross-platform, not
Linux-specific. I could easily be extolling the wonders of Emacs on
Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, or BSD. Emacs doesn’t require Linux.
(Neither does Apache, but you don’t see people waxing lyrical about
web servers that often, do you?) The flood of Emacs-related posts that
deluge the list whenever someone unwittingly brings up the topic is
probably incomprehensible to people who’ve never tried Emacs or tried
Emacs as just an editor and didn’t like it.

Still, I want to share what makes open source real for me. Not kernel
hacking, which is still too intimidating despite the existence of
projects like kernel-janitor. Not network or system administration,
which I don’t have the patience to do. Just the free and flexible
customization of something I use everyday and the thrill of sharing
these customizations with other people in a community that spans the

I guess that’s why I post on PLUG instead of plug-misc. I don’t think
PLUG should just be a venue for asking and answering technical
questions, but also for sharing nifty hacks and examples of how far a
Linux system can be pushed. Other people push their systems in terms
of hardware and services. I push mine in terms of how well it can fit
me, how well it can anticipate my needs.

I want to stroke other people’s egos. I want people to discover how
they can contribute to free and open source software, to experience
the thrill of seeing their code out there and being used. Open source
development isn’t just for PHP wizards or C freaks who can contribute
to existing projects or launch an entirely new project on their own.
Maybe—just maybe!—people who thought themselves just users of a text
editor will be inspired to think about how they can start customizing
their own.

コンピュータを使えば時間に節約になる。 Computers will save you a lot of time.

clair ching says:

I can’t help but agree with you. Emacs is the way that I
appreciated FOSS more compared to GNU/Linux per se. Why? It’s because
I easily felt part of the community of Emacs users and hackers on the
Emacs Wiki. That kind of interaction makes it less scary for newbies,
IMHO. I mean, not all people on the Emacs Wiki are very friendly, I
suppose, but the ones I have interacted with as I was learning to use
various tools and modes available showed me that I can do something
for the FOSS community, which is to write about what I learn. I don’t
even know ELISP but at least I know that my blog entries are helpful
to others too. =)

I guess we have been too giddy over Emacs on the PLUG mailing list
that is why someone suggested that. Well, I know I have always been
giddy about it but I can’t help myself! ^_^ Emacs is wonderful…

Besides there are so many hacks in Emacs that make FOSS usage,
learning and advocacy so much fun! Like the Planner mode that allows
me to somewhat organize my life, my thoughts, my schedule. Eshell
allows me to do some things without opening a separate terminal. In
Planner, I also store my notes on advocacy and my blog entry drafts. I
also listen to music on Emacs. And when something goes wrong on
whatever mode I am using, I can email the maintainer immediately, to
tell him/her what happened so that the bug can be fixed, etc. I try to
be as detailed as possible when I do that. So I guess that is my
contribution. =)

In any case, I also enjoy the company of people using Emacs, not just
because we talk about Emacs but because I am learning so much about
you guys =)

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Cleverer and cleverer

July 2, 2005 - Categories: emacs, family

My mom called me in a panic. “I just got this message from info AT
adphoto.com.ph saying that my e-mail account has been suspended.”

I grumbled. Yet another notice. Our e-mail had recently been suspended
because people weren’t deleting their old mail. I had just spent a few
days with ipowerweb tech support and
Adphoto employees working out the
issues. Another notice? I was going to track down and scold the errant

_After_ helping my sister, who paged me to come down so that I could
help her with the market study along the highway. And meeting my
friends. And tracking down that planner bug. ARGH!

My mom poked her head into the Internet room. “SACHA, fix my e-mail

Informal tech support people the world over know that when moms use
that tone of voice, everything else gets bumped down the priority

I trudged over to her Mac and brought up the Ipowerweb help support.

Kathy called to follow up. My mom picked up the phone and said,
“Sacha’s here fixing my e-mail.”

“No no no, I’m just going to show you how to ask for help. Where’s the

“Why don’t you fix it first and then you can teach me how to ask for
help next time?”

“I _can’t_ fix it. It’s up to the Ipowerweb people. Where’s the
message? Okay. Hmm. Temporarily suspended… check account details…”
I didn’t catch any typos during my cursory glance, but it didn’t feel
like the other notices we’d gotten from Ipowerweb. The message felt
wrong. I read further. “Adphoto Support Team… Wait a minute, we
don’t _have_ an Adphoto Support Team.” I looked up. Sure enough, there
was an attachment named “account-details.zip” just begging to be opened.

“So what’s wrong with my e-mail?”

“Nothing,” I replied, disgusted. I reread the message. Clever of them
to work the first part of the domain into the message. “It’s one of
those fake messages with attachments.”

“Wait! How do I tell which ones are real and which aren’t?”

How do I explain that feeling of something being wrong? It’s a blink moment.

  • Messages that ask you to look at attachments are immediately
    suspicious, even if they come from someone you know. Most worms fake
    the From: address to be someone you might now. Write the person who
    supposedly sent you the message and ask if that’s really the
    intended attachment.
  • Don’t click on random links, too. This could open you up to more spam
    or attacks that exploit browser vulnerabilities.
  • If the message says it comes from an automated system and you
    shouldn’t bother replying, see if there’s a human somewhere you can
    get in touch with.
  • Tech announcements shouldn’t be coming from info AT adphoto.com.ph,
    but rather an ipowerweb account. This is particularly true when
    they’re announcements I don’t remember making.
  • Make life easier for other people. If you send an attachment or link
    to someone else, include enough outside-the-computer information to
    let the other person know you’re human. For example, you could give
    some details about the job just finished.

I’ve had to enable e-mail access from the PCs. I’ve made the employees
promise not to click on strange links or attachments, and Internet
access is restricted to a set of government websites and the Adphoto
website itself. That should provide us with some modicum of protection
because there’s no way for them to establish a direct connection to
the outside.

With social engineers getting cleverer and cleverer, though, will that
be enough?

コンピュータがこの会社に導入されつつあります。 Computers are being introduced into this company.

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The changing face of Katipunan

July 2, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

My sister had an appointment in the Katipunan area today. She dragged
me along because she wanted to do a market study of the billboard ads
along the route, so I took pictures and videos while she drove. She
warned me in advance that I’d have to wait for about an hour. I agreed
anyway, knowing that it would give me time to reacquaint myself with
the area around my university.

The ill-considered and inconvenient Metro Manila Development Authority
(MMDA) anti-pedestrian fences were still there, cutting off access to
Ateneo de Manila University. Not relishing the idea of a long walk to
the pedestrian overpass in the noon sun, I decided to wander around
the area near KFC.

A striking addition to the landscape is My Place,
an upscale high-rise dormitory with full amenities, which I plan to write about later.
Parts of it are still being finished, but I heard that there are already over a dozen tenants.

Eyrie is no more. I had planned to eat lunch there, remembering the
kind, pudgy proprietor who was familiar enough with us to mock-scold
me one time for being late for a dinner appointment. I loved meeting
people there for good food at reasonable prices, chatting over baked
macaroni or that wonderful vegetarian pasta with portabello mushrooms.
Alas, it joined Martha’s Kitchen as yet another victim of progress—or
regress, considering the MMDA obstruction is probably to blame for all
of this.

The building that used to house Eyrie, The Filipino Bookstore, and the
Ti Breizh cafe has fallen into the shadow of Blueskies, an Internet
cafe and gaming arena formerly limited to the second and third floor
above the corner flower shop. Internet cafes stretch from edge of
Katipunan to the empty lot before Eagle Star Condominum.

Even the tutorial center at the corner near Tapa King has repurposed
most of its space into an Internet cafe and video editing workspace.
The only remnants of its past: a few stools, a narrow study area and
some posters advertising a 50-hour tutoring package for math, English
and abstract reasoning. Such a stark contrast from the quiet, spacious
place I remember peeking into before. How you can create a conducive
study environment crammed in between computer tables is beyond my

Well, that’s the changing face of Katipunan for you. The MMDA
pedestrian barrier, much cursed by people on both sides of the divide,
choked the casual lunch and dinner-with-school-friends crowd. Good
food isn’t enough to make people walk, but gaming works. Go figure.

I have no idea how KFC survives, but then again, it’s KFC.

Update: Allan adds:

The ones who owned the tutorial center beside tapaking
also own the computer shop. Their tutorial center (i forgot the name)
has moved above rustans beside pc express

近年では、電子コンピュータがますます重要になってきた。 In recent years electronic computers have become increasingly important.

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Doing Something Great

July 5, 2005 - Categories: passion, plans

Keith over at To-Done wrote an interesting post about
doing something great.

I want to do Something Great. I’m crazy about helping people be all
they can be. I want to help people regain control over their to-do
lists, finances, and the rest of their lives. I want to help people
share their passion and knowledge through better teaching and
presentation skills.

Many of my friends also have great passions. Ranulf Goss wants to
launch the Philippine PC game development industry. He founded Slycesoft and regularly gives inspirational talks at universities to encourage students to get into game development. Maoi Arroyo wants to jumpstart the Philippine biotech industry. She founded Hybridigm Consulting and also teaches people about entrepreneurship. Gabriel Narciso wants to build the nation. He does free-lance productivity coaching and organizational development for non-profits.

Here are some of the I’ve learned from them and from many other people I admire:

  • Set audacious goals. In the book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, James Collins and Jerry Porras talk about Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals. Visionary companies are passionate about goals that may seem too daring or even impossible, but they achieve them because they’re
  • Write down your goals and share them with as many people as you
    Constantly write down and review your goals. Talk about
    your goals with other people. As you share your goals, you’ll not
    only learn more about yourself but also gain the insights of others.
  • Surround yourself with people doing great things. Their
    passion will inspire you to work on your own goals, and you’ll be
    surprised at how helpful your network can be.
    Steve Pavlina
    said that one of the best things you can do is look for a
    mentor. You’ll learn a lot from mentors not only in your field but also elsewhere!
  • Don’t give up. You’ll hear a lot of nos and you’ll run into a
    lot of dead ends. Don’t give up! Take criticism into consideration,
    but keep on going. You can do it!

そのコンピュータは最新式だ。 The computer is up to date.

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T-Shirt-First Development

July 5, 2005 - Categories: geek

Kathy Sierra of Creating Passionate Users writes about T-Shirt First Development: how we just _love_ geek shirts.

AMEN! Excuse me while I gush. I have a Really Bad Thing for geek
T-shirts. I WANT THEM.

I totally love my baby tee with the Linux penguin. (A baby tee! It’s
the first time I’ve found a conference shirt that actually FITS!)

I am also really fond of a sleeveless red shirt that reads “Street
Code”. I don’t think it was meant to be a geeky shirt, considering I
picked it up in a department store, but geek is in the eye of the

I have actually gone so far as to ask for someone’s shirt. See, I was
walking around Faura when I saw an O’Reilly logo walking around. I
started following the guy wearing the faded shirt, scribbling the
words down because it was a very nice quote about code. He turned
around. I was, like, “Excuse me…” and then I looked up and saw the
guy wearing the shirt was one of my best friends in high school. He
gave me the shirt off his back during my birthday party. MWAHAHAHA.

I want more geek shirts. Cafe Press
and ThinkGeek are expensive, but
I’ve always played around with the idea of making my own shirts. I
want one that says I use Emacs. I think it’d be a good idea to have my goals written on a shirt, too… Hmm.
I wonder how well cloth markers would work…

コンピューターは我々から多くの時間と手間を省いてくれる。 Computers
save us a lot of time and trouble.

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July 6, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

If you read a number of blogs that don’t update regularly, take advantage of RSS aggregators like Bloglines. You can retrieve all the new posts with a single click, automatically skipping blogs that haven’t been updated. You can also categorize the blogs you read into folders so that you can read through your news in sets.

Bloglines makes it easy for you to share your blogroll with other
people, too. Check out the settings to publish an aggregator that
other people can use. You can also include a snippet of code in your
blog template.

Adding new blogs to your Bloglines account is easy with the Bloglines
toolkit for Mozilla and Firefox. You can browse the directory for
other cool blogs, too. Bloglines is good stuff!

不正アクセスは、法律で取り締まるべき。 There should be a law against hacking into the system/computer.

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Scriptaculous! – Javascript wizardry

July 6, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

For the Javascript-challenged among us, myself included,
script.aculo.us is a godsend. This is
where you can pick up code for drag-and-drop lists and funky visual
effects. Neato.

その情報は私のコンピュータのファイルに入っている。 The information is in a file in my computer.

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GOT MY VISA! Despedida details

July 6, 2005 - Categories: canada, party

The Canadian Embassy approved my student visa! I’m really going to go
to Canada on July 15, 2005! Yay!

I’ll be holding my despedida and advanced birthday party on July 9,
2005 (Saturday). Sorry about the short notice, but it was so hard to
plan anything not knowing if I’d actually be leaving.

Sacha’s 22nd birthday party and 2nd despedida

Date July 9, 2005
Time 1 – 5 PM, program starts at 3
Place See map below, or go to my house first for directions
Attire Casual. Geeky, if you can manage it


Don’t bring gifts. My baggage allowance is too small. ;) I would,
however, really really appreciate it if you could write me a letter
telling me what you’ve been up to this last year (or last N years,
depending on when we last talked). We’re also going to talk about our
plans for the next two years, so spend some time thinking about your
two-year plan (what you want to do) and be prepared to share it with
everyone in a speech of maybe a minute or two.

Come and hang out. I want to know what you’re interested in, and I
want you to get to meet other people I know just in case you find that
you’ve got similar interests and goals.

Light snacks will be served.

This is pretty much an open party, so if you know people who know me
and don’t mind talking about their goals and giving advice or whatever
for about a minute or two, drag them along. =)


そのコンピュータは最新式だ。 The computer is up to date.

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Poi performance at Ayala Museum

July 7, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

I had a fire poi performance at Ayala Museum for all of three minutes.
Two minutes, actually, because sound faded in so slowly. (Note to
self: Next time, make sure sound guy knows how to work the iPod. Hi,
Ranulf! ;) )

It was fun. I don’t know whether the audience liked it or not, as I
couldn’t see anything. <laugh>

コンピュータを使えば数字やグラフを扱うときに多くの時間と労力が省ける。 Computers will save you much time and energy when you deal with figures and graphs.

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Despedida clarification

July 7, 2005 - Categories: party

It’s at the Enrique studio, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines. =)
We’re next to Mercury Drug. Map: 2005.07.06#5 Time: 1 – 5, program at 3.
Bring your 2-year plan.

私はコンピューターについてあまり知識がない。 I don’t know much about computers.

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The only party with homework

July 8, 2005 - Categories: party

A bon voyage party or despedida is usually a light, happy affair. Not
this despedida. This one comes with homework. For the party tomorrow
(June 9), you need to prepare a 2-year plan.

I want to know what people’s interests and plans are so that I can
keep an eye out for interesting information and opportunities while
I’m there. I also plan to throw another party when I get back,
reviewing people’s goals and finding out how far we are in achieving

Start thinking about who you want to be in two years and what you want
to do. Come to the Enrique studio, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines.
We’re next to Mercury Drug. Map: 2005.07.06#5 Time: 1 – 5, program
at 3. Traditional Filipino snacks will be served. =)

See you there!

このコンピュータ1年前に買ったばかりなのに、もうすっかり時代遅れだわ。 I bought this computer one year ago and it’s already a dinosaur. [F]

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Compulsive wikister

July 9, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

My research group sent me a whole bucketload of documents and
spreadsheets I need to read before the meeting on July 15. What’s the
first thing I do? Wikify it!

I can’t help it. I’m a compulsive wikister. I believe that a
well-maintained freely-editable website can give community depth
because the consequent culture of documentation encourages people to
think about making lasting contributions of knowledge. A wiki can be a
catalog of resources, a place for discussion, and even a venue for
light-hearted fun documenting strange things.

It’s 12:58 AM. The PLUG technical session is in 8 hours. My party is
in 12 hours. What am I doing? Wiki wiki wiki.

コンピューターは非常に複雑な仕事を瞬時にすることができる。 Computers are capable doing very complicated work in a split second.

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Text messaging

July 9, 2005 - Categories: research

My preliminary goal for the research project is to develop services
for text messaging, drawing inspiration from successful initiatives in
the Philippines while adapting to the Canadian context.

Text messaging is extremely popular in the Philippines because of its
convenience and low cost. Availability of low-cost prepaid units and
inefficiency of landline providers result in high market penetration
for the cellphone. Ringtones, games and screensavers provide
significant revenue and plentiful advertising opportunities for
telecom companies and content providers. Value-added services through
text messaging are also popular, and our infrastructure makes it easy
for content providers to make a new service available.

WAP and GPRS are also increasingly popular. Just today, my friends and
I browsed a prominent news site for breaking news about the latest
political scandal. (Various groups are calling for the president to
resign, etc.) Specialized feeds provide news on shopping, sports, and
other popular topics. These services are advertised in mainstream

Of course, the primary use of texting is still communicating with
other people. Jokes, quotes, ASCII art teddy bears and even
mock-animated figures are passed around and carefully stored for
future forwarding. Text makes it easier for many people to communicate
despite noise, shyness or disability. Indeed, one of the first
ads promoting text messaging showed a couple communicating through
text. When they finally met, they used sign language.

A number of foreigners who’ve gotten used to texting in the
Philippines wonder why it hasn’t really caught on in other countries.
If it fits the research group’s goals, I can work on:

  • tracking the changing attitudes and abilities of a group of users as
    they start using cellphones to text each other
  • prototyping value-added services available through text messaging
    (push: announcements, quotes, reminders, etc.; pull: queries;

(On the other hand, if everyone wants to focus on blogs, I can do that
too. =) Blogs and communities are lots of fun.)

洋子はコンピューターを買えない。 Yoko is unable to buy a computer.

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Digital Pinay

July 9, 2005 - Categories: writing

Don’t worry, the Philippine Computer Society isn’t trying to sneak a
beauty pageant past us geekettes (at the moment, at least).

“Digital Pinay” will be the title of my monthly column in the
just-launched Computerworld On Campus magazine for prospective and
current IT students. I’ll share tips on making the most of computing
education, tidbits from my research and student life at the University
of Toronto, and advice on productivity and career planning.

Watch for it in the September issue. I’m still checking with them to
see if I can post the columns here as well. That would be fun!

E-Mail from Melba Jean Valdez-Bernad

祖母が生きているうちに、電話もコンピューターも一般的なものとなった。 In my grandmother’s lifetime, both telephones and computers have become commonplace.

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July 9, 2005 - Categories: barkada, friends, party

Ack ack ack. Three hours to go. Anyway, the party’s at the Enrique
studio, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines. =) We’re next to Mercury
Drug. Map: 2005.07.06#5 Time: 1 – 5, program at 3. Bring your 2-year
plan. =)

If you’re reading this blog, consider yourself invited.

私はコンピューターに興味がある。 I am interested in computer.

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Also from Trim Path: Javascript MVC framework

July 10, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

Junction brings the
power of the Ruby on Rails web MVC framework to JavaScript. It
makes it much easier to develop web-based applications that runs,
validate input, process data, and produce output in modern web
browsers like Mozilla Firefox. Well worth looking into!

私はコンピューターを操作するのがやさしいことがわかった。 I found it easy to operate the computer.

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semi-form letters: hooray for open source!

July 10, 2005 - Categories: emacs

I needed to write 31 thank-you-for-attending-my-send-off-party e-mail
messages. Instead of having a generic letter that I’d send to lots of
people all listed in To: or Bcc:, I decided to personalize it a bit by
including their nicknames, two-year goals, and a personal message I’d
add to each letter in different places.

Fortunately, my mail client was up to the task. One of the benefits of
having both your contact information and your mail client in an
easily-programmable environment is that you can hack together a quick
program to do exactly what you want.

I had typed everyone’s two-year-plans into my contact information
manager’s Notes field following a special format. It was the work of a
few minutes to record and run a macro that extracted the data and
created a signature for each person who attended my send-off party.

I then wrote a couple of short functions that looped over the
currently displayed contact records and drafted messages for each of
them following a template.

This resulted in 31 drafts I could edit and send without hassles. Much

For future reference (and for the handful of Emacs geeks or learners
in the audience), here’s the code I used to make it all happen:

(defun sacha/bbdb-send-form-mail (bbdb-record &optional subject template)
  "Compose a form message to the people indicated by the current BBDB record(s)."
  (interactive (list (if (bbdb-do-all-records-p)
                         (mapcar 'car bbdb-records)
                     (read-string "Subject: ")
                     (read-string "Template (): ")))
  (if (consp bbdb-record)
      (let ((records bbdb-record))
        (while records
          (sacha/bbdb-send-form-mail-1 (car records) subject template)
          (setq records (cdr records))))
    (sacha/bbdb-send-form-mail-1 bbdb-record subject template)))

(defun sacha/bbdb-send-form-mail-1  (bbdb-record &optional subject template)
  "Compose a form message for one person."
    (if bbdb-inside-electric-display
       (list 'sacha/bbdb-send-form-mail bbdb-record subject)))
  ;; else...
  (cond ((null bbdb-record) (error "record unexists"))
        ((null (bbdb-record-net bbdb-record))
         (message "%s record unhas a network addresses." (or (bbdb-record-name bbdb-record) "Unknown")))
        (t (bbdb-send-mail-internal (bbdb-dwim-net-address bbdb-record)
                                    subject (list bbdb-record))
           (goto-char (point-min))
           (when (re-search-forward "--text follows this line--" nil t)
             (forward-line 1)
             (insert template)
             (goto-char (point-min))
             (while (search-forward "" nil t)
               (replace-match (or (bbdb-record-getprop bbdb-record 'nick)
                                  (bbdb-record-name bbdb-record))
                              t t))
             (when (bbdb-record-getprop bbdb-record 'signature)
               (goto-char (point-max))
               (insert "\n")
               (let ((p (point)))
                 (insert (bbdb-record-getprop bbdb-record 'signature))
                 (fill-region-as-paragraph p (point))))
             (goto-char (point-min))
             (if (re-search-forward "^Subject: $" nil t) (end-of-line))))))

I used M-x local-set-key to bind sacha/bbdb-send-form-mail to M. * M
then applies the function to all displayed records.
../emacs/miniedit.el makes it easy to edit long strings in the
minibuffer, and that made the template much easier to write.

Emacs totally rocks. Nothing else has ever given me this much power.

自動車製造は人間の労働者に代わって、コンピューターが組み込まれたロボットによって行われている。 Car manufacturing is carried out by computer-programmed robots in place of human workers.

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Things you can do with RSS

July 10, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

Check out Things You Can Do with RSS for lots of interesting uses for RSS aggregators like Bloglines. =) Great stuff! It’s a wiki, so you can add your favorite use of RSS to the list too.

このコンピューターのことはよく知っている。 I know a lot about this computer.

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Insights from the brainstorming session

July 11, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

It’s great to have such great friends. Dominique Cimafranca, Charo, and Charlie Lopez were absolutely invaluable during the impromptu Software Freedom Day planning meeting we had earlier. We brainstormed for ways to bring SuSE users and enthusiasts out of the woodwork in order to address Novell’s wants. It’s a pity the Novell guy couldn’t join us (he had to deal with a client’s emergency), but I guess he can always get these people together himself.

Anyway. Back to the insights.

Although we had originally planned to hold the event in UP because UP
offered us a venue for free, our ever so wonderful counselors
suggested much better locations in Makati. The Glorietta Activity
Center is the best place on our list: a central location with plenty
of pass-thru traffic would result in great crowds during the actual
event. Who can miss or resist a large banner inviting people to get
free software there? We’ve also added AIM to our list. It’s amazing
how other people can jolt us out of our limiting assumptions…

I guess the key paradigm shift here is that we can plan with
sponsorship in mind. The bigger we dare to plan, the bigger the
possibilities are. And I _want_ to reach out to the casual user, the
Windows-using non-geek who’s missing out on all the wonderful free
software out there. If we manage to convince them to switch to Linux,
well and good. But if they don’t feel comfortable doing that yet,
there’s still plenty of free software out there to make their lives
better. Mozilla Firefox. Openoffice.org. Gaim. Stuff like that.

I’m coming to realize that my address book is more important than my
source code. Having these insightful people on my team… wow!

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Creating Passionate Users: Ten Tips for New Trainers/Teachers

July 12, 2005 - Categories: education, passion

Kathy Sierra does it again! In Ten Tips for New Trainers/Teachers on her blog about Creating Passionate Users, Kathy lists 11 things every teacher should know and 10 tips every teacher should follow.

There’s a reason why she’s one of my idols. Fangirl, fangirl, fangirl…

Even if you’re not officially teaching or training someone, you’re going to find it useful. READ IT! NOW!

そのコンピューターはかなり時代遅れだったので役に立たなかった。 The computer was so outdated that it was good for nothing.

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Rediscovering the art of writing

July 12, 2005 - Categories: writing

Charo Nuguid totally
rocks. This pen-obsessed girl just gave (gave!) me an extremely pretty
glass pen, the one she’s been raving about for the past few days. Now
pens and I don’t usually get along. I have a callus on the wrong
finger (ring instead of middle) due to incorrect writing habits, and
although I favor signpens and gel pens, I can’t write with a fountain
pen for fear of bending the tip.

But ooh. Glass. With, like, an ink bottle and stuff. A quill, really.
A very fancy quill with grooves near the tip to hold ink. Whoa.

And I have very nice monogrammed cards to use with it, too…

最近パソコンを初めた。 Recently it is beginning the personal computer.

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You know you’re done packing when…

July 13, 2005 - Categories: canada

… you’re sick and tired of figuring out better space usage and
decide that a few cubic inches of wasted space is not going to kill

コンピュータのキーボードの操作は、手動タイプライターほど努力を要しない。 The operation of a computer keyboard requires less effort than that of a manual typewriter.

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In Canada!

July 16, 2005 - Categories: canada

Miss everyone. =)

学生はこのコンピュータを利用できる。 Students have access to these computers.

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Life in the land of broadband

July 16, 2005 - Categories: canada

One of the things I really like about being in one of Those Countries
is the high-speed access to Those Sites. For example, here’s how long
it takes me to ping a Debian mirror here:

64 bytes from debian-mirror.cs.umn.edu ( icmp_seq=1 ttl=51 time=28.7 ms

Way, way, fun.

ニューヨーク州アーモンクに本社のあるIBMは世界最大のコンピュータ会社です。 International Business Machines Corporation, based in Armonk, New York, is the world’s largest computer firm.

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Microsoft Office templates

July 16, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

Check out the gallery of Microsoft Office templates.

Of course, no Microsoft-related post here would be complete without
subversive plugging. You don’t have to get Microsoft Office to take
advantage of these templates. You can edit Microsoft Word, Excel and
Powerpoint files in the excellent (and free!)
OpenOffice suite. If you’re using Linux
or another non-Windows operating system, you can use the cabextract
tool to unpack the archive containing the file.

Have fun!

従業員に対する新コンピューター・システム研修があなたの仕事になります。 Your task will be to train the employees on the new computer system.

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In Canada

July 16, 2005 - Categories: canada

I’m staying with a couple of relatives for the weekend. My second
cousin moved to Canada in 1989 with her husband and her kids, and is
overflowing with praise for Canada’s social programs and peaceful way
of life.

Her daughter and I had a nice chat last night. Juelle is taking up
graphic design in Ryerson. She candidly admitted that she hadn’t been
to the Philippines in a while and preferred Canada over the
Philippines. She asked if I was planning to go back.

I said yes without hesitation. When I saw the curiosity in her eyes, I
couldn’t help but talk about how despite the political circus and the
economic problems of the Philippines, it’s still _home_ for me. It is
a country that desperately needs us. It is a place where we can make
such a great difference.

I don’t look down on people who have moved to other countries. I think
that their support is a form of patriotism, too, sending much-needed
dollars back home. I’d like to straddle the divide by spending time in
both worlds, learning new things and meeting people in Canada and then
using my contacts and experience to bring investments to and improve
education in the Philippines.

I’m putting this up on the Net so that you can remind me, if I start
to forget, that in the Philippines there are classrooms without
teachers and students without mentors. There are companies and
organizations waiting to be born or accelerated. There’s so much we
can do, so much we can give.

There are lifetimes more to make a difference in other places. Life’s
lottery has given me the Philippines, and I will do right by it.

新しいパソコンを買うつもりで金を溜めているんだ。 I am saving money in order to buy a new personal computer.

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del.icio.us direc.tor

July 16, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

Check out del.icio.us direc.tor for a slick Javascript+XML interface to the popular social bookmarking service. The linked page goes into the detail behind the Javascript wizardry, but you don’t need to understand any of that to take advantage of the thing. You do, however, need an XSLT/Javascript-capable browser like Firefox or Internet Explorer. =) Have fun!

先日、パソコンショップでSIMMの掴み取りをやっていた。いくらなんでもマニアックすぎる。 SIMM had been grasped as much as possible in the personal computer shop the other day. It is too maniac.

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Interesting clubs

July 17, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

Won’t join all of them, but these look interesting





もしコンピューターがなければ、私たちの生活はどんなに不便だろう。 If it were not for the computer, how inconvenient our lives would be!

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Breakfast: Twice-baked potatoes

July 18, 2005 - Categories: cooking, cookordie

Two potatoes are _far_ too much for breakfast. I feel stuffed. I feel
more than stuffed. I feel like skipping lunch, which might not be a
bad idea considering I’ve got another two potatoes slated for dinner.
(It’s a good thing I don’t easily tire of eating the same kind of

The cause of my current not-quite-distress is something called the
twice-baked potato. I have a particular fondness for it because it
graced the breakfast tables of my childhood (clearly before the
household settled into the corned-beef-and-eggs routine). I remember
seeing the crisp, slightly browned grated cheese topping the potato
and knowing there would be more pockets of cheesy goodness beneath it.

How do you prepare twice-baked potatoes for breakfast?

Take the potatoes you microwaved last night out of the refrigerator.
Baking the potatoes the night before makes them nice and cool by the
time you need to hollow them out. Slice open the top and carefully
scoop out most of the potato using a spoon, making a small bowl. Mash
it together with cheese, salt and pepper and spoon it back into
potato. You may need to pack it in tightly if you use as much cheese
as I do. Then pop it into the microwave for another minute and a half
to make it nice and warm.

As originally prepared:

2 potatoes 0.46
A bit of cheese 0.41
Total: 0.87

Again, two potatoes are far too much. Heck, I started feeling full
halfway through the first potato. By the time I finished it, I was
wondering if I could put it back into the refrigerator. To err on the
safe side, though, I decided to finish it all up. That explains why
I’m currently… quite… full…

Next time:

1 potato 0.23
A bit of cheese 0.20
Total: 0.43

このコンピュータは強力で効率がよく使いやすい。 This computer is powerful, efficient, and easy to use.

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Learning designers

July 18, 2005 - Categories: education, passion

In College Matters… Sometimes, Kathy Sierra writes:

Maybe there should be third-party “learning designers” who you pay to plan and choose the best options and put together a perfectly tailored custom program from a variety of learning vendors (instead of throwing all your learning eggs into one school basket) that still includes some general education, but in the way that makes the most sense for that particular student, and uses both online, distance, and *some* face-to-face learning.

Hmm. Now there’s a fun idea. I like tailoring things to fit people’s individual needs, and I’m crazy about teaching…

祖母が生きているうちに、電話もコンピューターも一般的なものとなった。 In my grandmother’s lifetime, both telephones and computers have become commonplace.

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Not the only one

July 18, 2005 - Categories: issues, philippines

It’s great to know that I’m not the only one who thinks loving one’s
country isn’t passe. From a chat with

 Hey Sacha! How are things in Canada? I just read your
              entry on coming back home to the Philippines. Very very
              very positive attitude! If more progressive people like
              you (and me!) thought more about what we can do for this
              country than merely what it can do for us, I'm sure it
              wouldn't be in the rut it is now. We have a lot of work
              to do, but as early as now, brava! :)
 Awww... =)
 Things are fine in Canada, although I _really_ need to find
         other Filipinos who care about the Philippines and don't go
         on and on about the Good Life here or say things like "You
         know, I was also patriotic when I was young..."
 I read the "Walang Kwenta Ang Pilipinas" email that's been going around.
 I couldn't finish it because I found that it just said
              too much of the obvious and the wrong. We all know we're
              in a rut, and just writing about the rut we're in
              doesn't solve things.
 Your blog entry, though short, inspired me. Knowing that
              I have like-minded colleagues like you give me the
              strength to continue standing up for this country,
              amidst the exodus of professionals and the shit that our
              politicians just keep ramming down our throats.
 I hope you find more like-minded people there. The
              feeling of being the only one can be very discouraging.

Ka Edong of Technobiography
also wrote, “There’s a lot to be done for the Philippines. We do what
we can.”

Awww. =)

I want to find other Filipinos in Toronto who are passionate about
nationbuilding and who believe we can do something even from this

I know people like that can exist outside the country. I mean, if
MIT has enough people to start MIT PESO,
why not UToronto?

私たちは時間を節約するためにコンピュータを使った。 We used the computer in order to save time.

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The quest for the mythical ironing board

July 18, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

It may be the height of summer, but the temperature of the Bahen IT
building allows me to wear crisp long-sleeved blouses. Which is why I
doubled my efforts to find the Mythical Ironing Board said to inhabit
the common room.

Right by the door, my roommate said. From the elevator, turn left, go
straight, and go in. By the sink, another said. Somewhere there.

I looked everywhere for anything that vaguely resembled an ironing
surface. I found an outlet near the sink, but the white plastic didn’t
look like something I should be ironing my clothes on.


Up and down. Asking for directions.

On my sixth trip down, I finally collared someone and asked him if he
could please explain to me exactly where the mythical ironing board
was supposed to be.

He walked back with me, opened the door, and said, “It’s right
th… Hey. Hmm. It’s not there.”

Well, at least I know it doesn’t really exist.

Mom, could you bring me an ironing pad? Something small I can use in the room.

今やノート型コンピューターは弁当箱と同じくらいが一般的だ。 Now note computers are as common as lunch boxes.

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Stranger in a strange land

July 19, 2005 - Categories: canada

My labmates quirked a collective eyebrow in disbelief when I asked
them for cellphone advice. “What do you need text messaging for? Won’t
you be near your computer most of the time?”

Why _do_ I want cellular coverage, anyway? Is it an ingrained habit
that makes perfect sense in the Philippines but not in Canada, like
the way our vestigial tailbone must have served some purpose a long
long time ago?

Twitch, twitch.

I’d like to moblog. It’s a great way to keep track of my little
discoveries around Toronto. Ideally I should be able to take a picture
and record some sound while walking along. Non-cellphone way: fish the
digicam out of the bag, snap a shot, then start sound-recorder on my

Aha. I want to be able to get in touch with people at home, who aren’t
always going to be at their computers. For example, when arranging
Skype sessions. _That’s_ my main use case. Non-cellphone way: Chikka
or some other web/mail to SMS thing. Of course, that means I should’ve
set up a Chikka account first… Hmm.

Hmm. Let’s try using those workarounds first.

If I do take the plunge, here’s more info:

Rogers texting plans and international text info: $ 0.20 to text Globe, Smart, or Sun

Same price for Bell international text messages. Bell can take messages from ICQ. Bell prepaid? Hmm.

At CAD 0.20, that comes out to roughly PHP 9.12, which is actually cheaper than international text from the Philippines.

HMMM. Looks like we might actually be able to make this work. And of
course, there’s missed-call stuff… =) Now I just have to figure out
if I can cheaply send long e-mail with pictures attached…

そのコンピュータはかなり時代遅れだったので役に立たなかった。 The computer was so outdated that it was good for nothing.

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CiteULike: Social bookmarking for scientists and researchers

July 20, 2005 - Categories: research

Following on the heels of popular social bookmarking services such as
del.icio.us and Furl
is CiteULike, a service specifically
geared toward scientists and researchers. It’s perfect for keeping
track of pages you’ve read and will read, and it can even import and
export BibTeX records for easy use with your document typesetting
system. Way, way cool. Thanks to Alvin Chin for telling me about this!

(See, talking to your research labmates is a Good Idea.)

私はパソコンを修理させました。 I had my personal computer repaired.

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More thoughts about home

July 20, 2005 - Categories: philippines, plans

ka edong is right. we do what we can. but coming back to the
philippines? i dunno. opportunities are not as plenty in the
philippines as in, say, the us, canada, australia or japan.
especially in my field (chemistry). how am i expected to do science
if i have to think what i’ll eat tomorrow? and what of instrument
and equipment? i only want to do science, and where ever there is an
opportunity, i’ll go there. your desire to help the philippines by
going back is great. i admire that. tell me that again after five
years, and i’ll admire you more. –

I’ve heard some people can do six months in one country and six months
in the other. In fact, it works quite well: skip winter, skip really
hot summers… If you’re important enough to a lab or company that
they’ll let you do that, or you run your own business, then that’s
very doable.

Sometimes it’s not about exploring the limits of what you can do for
yourself, but rather finding out how you can improve as many people’s
lives as possible. In the process of finding out how to apply what you
know to people’s lives, you might find that you can go farther and
faster than you imagined.

I like computer science, but I don’t want only to do computer science.
I want to help people learn life management and communication skills,
and technology is just a way for me to do that.

Let’s use a better example. You’d think biotechnology would be
something needing millions of dollars in lab equipment, right? But
technopreneur Maoi Arroyo’s not in some comfy lab in MIT or Cambridge.
She’s out there, jumpstarting the Philippine biotech industry by
helping people commercialize their discoveries—while remaining hooked
into the global scene, jetsetting and making deals with people
overseas. Not bad for someone in her twenties.

But technology and science are different, you might argue. Science is
a pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Let’s look at Kendra
Castillo, taking up her master’s in environmental management at UP.
She may not have the supersensitive equipment or the finegrained
meteorological data available in other countries, but there are _real_
questions still addressable by the lab she joined. The lack of
resources forces her to be more resourceful and inventive. It’s
frustrating to deal with incomplete data and broken equipment, but
that only opens up more questions to tackle through research.

The only limits are those we set ourselves. Sure, the Philippines may
not have given us much. It may not give us opportunities to be highly
paid for doing exactly what we do. But the secret to success is
realizing that we _make_ our opportunities. We determine our future.

I want to make the Philippines better and I am willing to devote time
and effort to doing this. Just words for now. I’m naive and
idealistic, perhaps. But I know older, more accomplished people who
are doing just that. They’re bridging the divide through their
efforts. They care about nationbuilding. Through their initiatives,
they create jobs and wealth and _meaning_ for people who are just
waiting for opportunities to come their way.

It’s not too late to discover how you can make a difference. All you
have to do is try.

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コンピュータは非常に複雑な仕事を瞬時にすることができる。 Computers are capable of doing very complicated work in a split second.

Notes from software customization talk

July 21, 2005 - Categories: ibm, research

I caught the subway and the bus for the first time on my way to the
IBM Center for Advanced Studies. Mark and I arrived too early for the
lecture, so Pierre Duez showed me around IBM. (I owe him a thank-you
note.) It’s a great building, with beautiful themed spaces (Asian,
English cottage, etc.) and game rooms (billiards, air hockey, table
tennis, computer games, gaming consoles). Neato.

The talks started at 11:00. Both presentations came out of term
projects in the requirements engineering course under U of T professor
Steve Easterbrook.

The first presentation was about cognitive anchoring bias in project
estimation, which is when our estimates are affected by the starting
number. High starting numbers result in high estimates, low numbers
result in low estimates.

The second presentation, though, raised goosebumps.
This-is-what-I-want-to-do goosebumps. Sotirios Liaskos talked about
goal-oriented software customization, using Mozilla Thunderbird as an
example of an option-laden program that’s hard to customize. I was
blown away by graphs of people’s goals and how those goals are
affected by the different options.

I found another name for what I want to do! =) Soft goal analysis.

I want to do that for tasks. I want to analyze the different
strategies people use and _why_ they use them. For example, why people
keep track of contexts, why people use dated or undated tasks… I
want to write something that will profile a person’s task-management
preferences and suggest software support. When people want to modify
their task management strategy, I want to suggest step-by-step ways to
achieve their goals.

So basically, I’m looking at:

  1. software support recommendations for task management strategies
  2. support for changing task strategies
  3. customization of task management software using soft goals (harder)

I need to learn how to do things like cognitive work analysis and soft
goal analysis while I’m here. I need to find other people who are
analyzing similar domains so that I can bounce ideas off them.

Here’s what I should read next. I’ll grab the URLs when I connect back
to the Net.

  • http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~sme/ – readings in requirements engineering
  • Triggers and barriers to customizing software
  • User customization of a word processor
  • An evaluation of a multiple interface design solution for bloated software
  • Reasoning with goal models
  • Simple and minimum-cost satisfiability for goal models

People met today:

  • Ryan from the lab
  • Sotirios Liaskos, who gave the talk on software customization
  • Pierre Duez, person who showed me around
  • Leah, working on software customization of Rational software
  • Steve Easterbrook, professor who taught requirements engg and is now doing experimental methods for software engg
  • Jen, research manager for Pierre(?)

People heard about:

  • Eric Yu, in charge of the mailing lists
  • Alexei, who’s looking at goal models for business processes

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Happy days are here again!

July 22, 2005 - Categories: canada

I can send and receive text messages! Yay! Yay! Yay!

Non-Filipinos may not understand precisely how important text
messaging is. Heck, even with a Net connection at the lab, I _still_
didn’t feel quite connected until I sent my first text message and got
back a reply.

Whee! Whee! Whee!

Canadian cellular providers all suck. Fido sucks less than the others
because it actually allows me to use my Nokia cellphone to text the
Philippines for CAD 0.20 (although the guy warned me that cell
providers in the Philippines might drop text during peak seasons like

Rogers is also a GSM provider, but they said they can only text to
around 10 countries. (Which doesn’t make sense, because Fido and
Rogers are practically the same company now…)

None of the providers will let me send e-mail from my phone. =(

But I’m so desperate for some kind of connectivity that I’ll settle
for text.

先日、パソコンショップでSIMMの掴み取りをやっていた。いくらなんでもマニアックすぎる。 SIMM had been grasped as much as possible in the personal computer shop the other day. It is too maniac.

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Yay! Network at home, too!

July 22, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

My network connection in the dorm has been activated, too! Yay! Yay! Yay!

Hmm. 1.5 gigabit weekly bandwidth limit, though. I _may_ end up
Skyping from the lab early in the morning, then…

E-Mail from Rebecca Spagnolo

ここ数年、コンピューターは仕事に限らず広く利用されるようになりました。 Recently, the increasing diversity of computer use has extended far beyond the realms of the office.

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Waaah! No Internet in the dorm yet!

July 23, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

Well, that sucks. Apparently, the reminder I got in my e-mail is a
generic reminder sent to everyone at Graduate House, not a
welcome-to-the-Internet sort of thing. Maybe I should volunteer to
help maintain the network, if only so that other people will get
connected faster. I really, _really_ want to get connected!

I could go to school today, but I don’t know if anyone will be in the
lab and my ID doesn’t open the door to the room with my cubicle yet.
Hey, wait, I have access to that other room… Right. If by 8:30, I
don’t have access yet (and fat chance anything will change between now
and then), I’m going to head over to school and Skype from the lab.

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Where should mailing list replies go?

July 23, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

John Billings writes:

I’d also like to change it so that when you hit reply the messge
goes to the list and not the sender.

Although this is common behavior, there are good reasons to consider
keeping the current setting of not overriding Reply-To. This is a
fairly religious topic thoroughly covered in the following pages:

Keeping Reply-To intact:

Overriding Reply-To:

(Not that number should indicate anything, but the pages are
interesting in themselves.)

Here are the reasons why I think not overriding Reply-To: makes sense
for this community.

The Mail-Followup-To: header is often used to redirect a thread to
another, more appropriate mailing list. For example, if something on
the admin mailing list becomes of general interest, then you could add
a Mail-Followup-To: header that automatically redirects replies to
that message to, say, the people mailing list. On the other hand, if
the admin mailing list overrides Reply-to: and no one distinguishes
between Reply and Followup, then people would have to make a conscious
effort to post to the right mailing list.

Also, discarding the Reply-To: set by the user loses information and
makes it difficult to send off-list replies to people whose
originating addresses may not be the same as their preferred address.
This is the case when people have multiple e-mail addresses subscribed
or recognized so that they can send mail from anywhere, but prefer
receiving all their list mail through one account (gmail, for example,
so that it can be archived nicely).

Many mailing lists choose to override the Reply-To: in order to
accommodate people who don’t distinguish between Reply and Follow-Up,
but the distinction makes it much easier for people who are used to
making conscious decisions to reply on or off list. Your mail client
should have a separate command for Follow up, which you can use for
replying to mailing lists. I recommend keeping the current setting for
NIPL mailing lists.

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Milestone: first time to use a washing machine

July 24, 2005 - Categories: canada

I stood in front of the washing machine and carefully read the
instructions. I was no stranger to washing my clothes, preferring to
hand-wash things. This was the first time I was going to use a washing
machine, and only because I had sheets and towels that would have been
impossible to dry in our bathroom.

Darn. Why didn’t I still have Internet? I was tempted to run to a
cybercafe and look up instructions for machine-washing. Yes, silly
thing, but the Internet has everything. (Hey, I picked up tips for
handwashing off the Internet before.) Then I thought twice about
spending more time and money looking something like that up, and I
decided to go with… err… figuring things out.

It was with great trepidation that I measured the appropriate amount
of detergent, minding the sign on the wall that very sternly warned me
not to exceed the detergent manufacturer’s recommended amounts. I had
previously picked out the box from a bewildering array of powder and
liquid detergents because it was the only one that advertised
“Color-fast!” in bright, bold letters. (Yes, humans are suckers for

Still, I didn’t want to take any chances given my partiality for red
and orange tops, so I washed my white blouses separately.

Setting the washing machine to “Bright Colors” resulted in the cold
wash cycle that many of my clothes needed, and I figured that my
sheets and towels wouldn’t complain about not being washed in a hot
load. I sorely missed Internet access at that point, as I could have
quickly checked the Net to see whether I should have separated my
towels and sheets instead. (Note to self: must set up wireless…)

The rest of the wash was uneventful. I used my cellphone to remind me
to transfer my clothes to the dryer after half an hour, and pick them
pup after an hour after that. I whipped up a quick mushroom-and-cheese
omelette for lunch while waiting for my clothes to dry. Surprisingly

Keeping the no-ironing trick in mind, I folded the clothes as soon as
I took them out of the dryer. I was pleased to see that most of my
clothes seem to have survived the ordeal not much worse for wear,
although either the dryer or the washing machine had started fraying
the threads in my black socks and ever-so-nice striped red
long-sleeved blouse. I guess I should wash those separately, then.

I need to look up that demo on how to fold shirts. I remember seeing a
video of how to fold shirts correctly and efficiently. It’s one of
those lifehacks floating around. Hmm…


  • Black socks, one pair
  • Red long-sleeved blouse
  • White and green pajamas: tinted slightly reddish

Go ahead. Laugh. Remember, you were a newbie once…

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Five lessons learned from last week

July 25, 2005 - Categories: emacs, organizer, research, writing
  • Research groups are good. The lively exchange of ideas will inspire
    and support me, and besides, group meetings often have food. It’s
    worth postponing my individual interest in personal information
    management if I can’t find other people who are working on the same
  • I’m good at networking and relating to people quickly. I’m still a
    little shy, but I’m starting to be good at remembering names and
    faces, and people here don’t mind helping someone get settled in.
  • A personal organizer makes me feel more on top of things. If I can
    find a ring-bound paper organizer with the same structure as my
    current planner, I’ll switch to it. I really appreciate having
    weekly and daily goals, and might prepare my own templates if I
    can’t find an organizer that normally does that.
  • I can write 800 words easily once I get going. I prefer writing in
    one go instead of filling out an outline because the former feels
    more like writing e-mail to someone, and I can get pretty
    long-winded in e-mail.
  • My writing style seems to be matter-of-fact and conversational.
    Dominique thinks I’ve found my voice.

近年では、電子コンピュータがますます重要になってきた。 In recent years electronic computers have become increasingly important.

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Settled in and ready to watch my birthday video

July 25, 2005 - Categories: barkada, friends

For my birthday and send-off party, a bunch of my friends got together
and made a video that I could bring with me to Canada. I haven’t
watched it yet. I thought I shouldn’t do it while I was still settling
in, while I still wasn’t quite sure that this was a good idea.

I’m going to watch it later. I think I’ve gotten the rhythm of things
and I’ve found little sources of joy here.

I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with. =)

ここのパソコンはシステムを変えることができないので何もできない。 Because the personal computer here cannot change the system, anything cannot be done.

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How to fold a shirt

July 26, 2005 - Categories: geek

Clair passed me a link to that nifty tutorial on folding shirts. I wonder if the trick works with the long-sleeved blouses I like wearing. See, _that’s_ why I post all of these personal stories online. People share useful tips and stories. =) Thanks, everyone!

It turns out I’m not the only one with laundry problems, too. Numerous
people have written in with their own misadventures and tips. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

– Don’t mix colored shirts with white ones. (Yup, I knew that. Good thing I learned it from other people’s mistakes…)
– Use mesh bags for socks. (My mom will bring me a few.)
– If you fold your laundry right after you take it out of the dryer, you don’t really need to iron your clothes.

仕事場にコンピューターを設置した。 We have equipped our office with computers.

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Paper inbox planner

July 26, 2005 - Categories: emacs, organizer

The Paper Planner Inbox is a good post about
keeping an “inbox” section in your planner.

My index cards used to be my inbox as well as my semi-persistent
storage, but now I need something with a bit more order. I really like
my calendar, and if I can find a small six-ring planner with weekly
forms that also have day and week goals, I’d buy it in a jiffy. I’m
also interested in getting a six-ring puncher. Must find a large
stationery store…

火災で全てのコンピューターデイスクが駄目になってしまった時、会社はもうお手上げの状況だった。 The company was really up shit creek when a fire destroyed all their computer discs.

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My banking needs

July 26, 2005 - Categories: canada, finance

I need a Canada-based credit card for most of my purchases. I’ll keep
track of all of the purchases and pay it off in full each month. This
is more for convenience and credit history than actual credit. Also,
using a credit card for most of my transactions reduces the number of
debit transactions I’ll need to make at the ATM.

I need a savings account with Internet banking that either allows me
to auto-debit credit card payments at the end of each month or lets me
transfer the funds online. Most of my research grant will sit there.
If I can get high interest, all the better.

If not, I can maintain a current account with good ATM placement and
no withdrawal fees for my day-to-day cash expenses. I’m tracking cash
and credit separately, so I should be able to get an idea of how much
cash I’ll need each week.

So, what are my options?

The International Student Center‘s page on transferring funds to Canada lists the following banks as being close to the St. George campus.

The Toronto Dominion Bank
Bloor & Bay Branch
77 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 1M2

The Bank of Nova Scotia
Bloor & Spadina Branch
332 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 1W6

The Royal Bank of Canada
Harbord & Spadina Branch
648 Spadina
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 2H7

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
Spadina & College Branch
268 College Street
Toronto, Ontario
M5T 1S1

The Bank of Montreal
Bloor & St. George Branch
262 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 1V9

For President’s Choice:
12 St. Clair Ave E

Toronto, ON

Credit card (no annual fee, 18.5% interest rate)

PC Mastercard .
TD Canada Trust Green Visa Pre-authorized payment service from Canadian banks
Scotiabank Student Credit Cards Tiered moneyback promo calculated yearly. 0.25% for CAD 0 – CAD 1499.99, 0.5% for CAD 1500 to 2999.99, 1.0% for CAD 3000 and up
Royal Bank of Canada Student Visa Classic .
CIBC Classic Card for Students seems to require citizenship
Bank of Montreal Mosaik Mastercard .
Current account

President’s Choice No Fee Bank Account

– Free, unlimited Internet and phone transactions
– Free CIBC network transactions
– Free Interac direct payments
– Free chequing

TD Canada Trust Companion Savings Account

– Two free debits per month, CAD 1.25 fee / debit afterwards.
– Bill payments CAD 1.25 plus debit fee
– CAD 0 – CAD 4,999.99: 0.05% interest, CAD 5,000 and over: 0.25% interest

Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan

– Free transactions with minimum balance of CAD 2,000.
– Else, CAD 1.25 monthly fee covers 12 non-teller transactions. Extra at CAD 0.25 each (including Internet banking).
– Includes $500 credit limit on Scotiabank Classic Visa and no annual fee while student

Royal Bank of Canada Student Banking

– CAD 3.50 a month, 25 free debits, CAD 0.50 per additional debit
– Interac fee: CAD 1.50, PLUS: CAD 3.00

CIBC Student Advantage

– CAD 1000 minimum balance = no monthly fee for 0 to 10 transactions, CAD 0.30 for additional transactions(?)
– Reapply every year for student advantage

Savings account

President’s Choice Interest First Savings Account

– 2.15% interest (now 4% with balance of CAD 1000)
– Automatic savings plan

ING Direct

– 2.4% interest
– Four free Interac transactions per month, CAD 0.75 for succeeding transactions
– ATM at intersection of University Ave. and Adelaide St., free transactions

Scotiabank Money Master

– 2% interest
– Free transfer to other Scotiabank services. CAD 5.00 debit fee for others.


I’ve decided to go with President’s Choice Financial because it’s a pretty good deal in terms of both offline and online banking. One of my labmates keeps her accounts there, and she’s quite happy with it. Good stuff. I’ll apply for a social insurance number (25 St Clair Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario, M4T 3A4), and then open a current and savings account. If I can get a credit card off them too, yay.

私はパソコンを修理してもらいました。 I had my personal computer repaired.

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Toast IT

July 26, 2005 - Categories: speaking, toastmasters

Charo and the others have been telling me to join the Toastmasters for
the longest time. After sifting through a number of Toronto-based
groups, I finally settled on Toast I.T.,
which meets every Tuesday a few blocks away from school. I attended my
first meeting as a guest, and I had tons of fun.

For the table topics game, we had one minute to prepare and one minute
to present. Topics were randomly drawn from an envelope, and people
could pass if they wanted to. Everyone would vote, and the winner
would have the privilege of keeping the club trophy/mascot for the

Tonight’s topic: superpowers.

The table topics master started the game going. His superpowers were
encyclopedic knowledge and lightning-fast computation, and he made us
laugh by pointing out all of the everyday things that such superpowers
would solve. At what point does buying a transit pass make more sense
than buying tickets individually? How much would you need to pay for
gas in order to get somewhere? How much would you have to pay in
taxes? I’m sure he was thinking on his feet, but he was thinking so
quickly that the words flowed as smoothly as in any well-prepared

The group was surprised when I chose to rise to the challenge of
public speaking. I guess most guests are terrified of speaking in
front of a crowd of strangers. My superpower was the ability to win
beauty contests. I wracked my brain for a good use for that and I
couldn’t find any, but here’s sorta what I came up with: (can’t
remember that clearly)

I’m five feet one-fourth inch tall—and that one-fourth inch is very
important, mind you. I have glasses and pimples. But it doesn’t
matter, because I’ve got a superpower. I can win any beauty contest I
want. (pause) Who’d have figured? I love using my superpower to make a
point… and it certainly helps me promote my projects!

Back in the Philippines, there was an IT pageant. A search for role
models. (pause) The application asked for, of all things, bust size,
waist and hip measurements. (pause and shrug) With my A-cup, my
waist—let’s not even talk about my hips—I could go right in there,
win the thing… and _then_ show them that it’s not how you look but
what you _do_ that counts.

Much fun. =)

There was a girl who could catch and control fire, a guy who could
produce gadgets from somewhere, an old man who said that a forcefield
would be incredibly useful for deflecting the slings and arrows of
outrageous fortunes—or rotten tomatoes and lettuces from other
Toastmasters on the occasion of a really bad speech…

Good stuff! I voted for the forcefield guy because he was funny. =)
The sergeant-at-arms was happy to announce that someone had won by a

… but not as happy as I was. ;) Well, that made my day. I can’t wait
to go to the next one!

私は父からコンピューターゲームがあたえられた。 I was given a computer game by my father.

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Bank account needs social insurance number needs employment contract

July 27, 2005 - Categories: canada

Sorting out my finances is harder than I thought. My funding won’t
kick in until September, although they’re still paying 12 months of
support. Good thing my parents made sure I was well-prepared. This is
certainly not something I could do on my own (without being royally
gouged by banks).

I biked up to St. Clair (uphill! on a one-speed bike! ack!) to apply
for a social insurance number, only to find out that I needed an
employment contract from the school or from an employer providing
services on campus. Without a social insurance number, I couldn’t
apply for a bank account. Oh well. I guess I’ll go again when I get
the contract.

Still, nothing can put a damper in my mood. I signed up for Bikeshare!
I can bike around Toronto! Wheee!

コンピュータに関する本を全部集めなさい。 Put all the books about computer together.

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Wahoo! Bikergal!

July 27, 2005 - Categories: canada

I’ve signed up with BikeShare, a
Community Bicycle Network
program that’s like a library for bikes. They plan to turn Toronto
into a little Amsterdam (err, the _bicycle_ aspect of Amsterdam, not
some of its other aspects! =) ). Good stuff! CAD 25.00 gets you a
season pass valid until sometime in December. You can borrow and
return a bike from any of the hubs in Toronto, and you can keep a bike
for up to 3 days. Very good stuff.

コンピュータの使い方も知らないのに、あんなに高いマシンを買って。宝の持ち腐れだよ。 What a waste to buy such an expensive machine even though he doesn’t even know how to use computers.

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Zero Gravity Circus

July 28, 2005 - Categories: canada

I biked over to 1300 Gerrard Street East to join the weekly Zero Gravity Circus practice (7 – 11, Wednesdays). These guys are way, way cool. They’re really set up for circus practice: long strips of cloth for acrobats, mats all over the place, and even a small stage. People juggled assorted things: balls, clubs, rings… A number of people practiced poi (they’re using really short strings, for some reason) and fire staves (sans fire), and there were even a couple of diabolo people. (Way, way, cool!)

The streetcar runs along Gerrard Street E, so it’s a pretty convenient location. Now I have a regular Wednesday evening thing…

彼はコンピューターに精通している。 He is acquainted with computers.

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Competition: Build a PC in the fastest time and be crowned as the Philippines’ FASTEST GEEK!

July 28, 2005 - Categories: geek, philippines

Thanks to Marcelle for passing on the word!

Build a PC in the fastest time and be crowned as the Philippines’ FASTEST GEEK!

PC Magazine Philippines will host elimination rounds in selected
schools around Metro Manila to look for the fastest PC builders.
Winners from each venue will compete in the finals in SM Megamall
Cyberzone to determine who will be the Philippines’ Fastest Geek. A
victory party at the SM Megamall Megastrip will be thrown in honor of
the Philippines’ Fastest Geek and the finalists! August 27, 2005: SM
Megamall Cyberzone 10AM Onwards. All-night partying follows at SM Megastrip B.

Elimination Dates and Venues

August 12 UPD, ADMU, DLSU
August 17 Informatics, Adamson, UST
August 24 AMA, Mapua Makati, Don Bosco Mandaluyong

Win a fully-loaded Multimedia PC and represent the country in the Regional Championship in Singapore!

しかし、ほとんどの研究はエメットの理論がコンピュータ・グラヒィックに与えた影響については焦点を当てていない。 Most studies, however, have not focused on the influence Emmet’s theory had on the computer graphics.

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You’ve got a friend…

July 28, 2005 - Categories: barkada, friends

I’ve just finished watching the video my friends made for my birthday
and send-off party, and now that I’ve recovered my
breath from laughing so hard, all I can say is… wow!

Here’s a toast to a totally amazing group of friends without whom I
would be missing out on so much wonderfulness.

やめとけやめとけ。それより薬局に性能の良いコンピューターがあるんだよ。 Don’t do that!!! There’s a computer at the drug store.

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Custom planner =)

July 28, 2005 - Categories: emacs, organizer, planning, productivity

I went to a shop specializing in pens and organizers, but I couldn’t
find anything that matched what I had in mind. So I made my own
planner templates using OpenOffice.org Calc and Inkscape. I made
a week planner with plenty of space for action items and notes, a
month list I can use to keep track of things like meals or whatever,
and a booknotes template.

I’m going to test the templates over the next few days. If it works
for me, then I’ll put the templates up on the Net. They’re for
standard letter-size three-ring binders, so anyone can use them
easily. =)

I’m a happy girl.

私達がコンピュータの使い方を知る事は重要になってきている。 It is becoming important for us to know how to use a computer.

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More about credit cards

July 29, 2005 - Categories: canada, finance

Chargecards.ca has the goods on credit cards in Canada. Check out the list of student-friendly credit cards for no-fee low-minimum-income no-credit-history-needed deals.

If you’re an international student, though, searching for a credit
card is a frustrating experience. Under “Perfect for students!” and
“Low interest rate!” signs, you’ll find “Must be a Canadian resident.”
It isn’t entirely fair how the Canadian government gets to consider
you a resident for tax purposes but you don’t get any of the resident
perks, but that’s life.

Don’t give up, though! Some banks are at least aware of the predicament of international students.
Calling up the International Student Centre yielded this quick tip:

Apply for the TD Canada Trust card at the Bay and Bloor branch (77 Bay Street, a short walk from campus). Don’t forget to bring:

  • passport
  • study permit
  • confirmation of address: rental agreement, phone bill, etc.
  • proof of enrollment: status letter, etc.
  • deposit (at least CAD 1000)

This still leaves me stranded because I’m not actually officially
enrolled yet, but hey, at least other people can use the tip.

As long as you use a credit card responsibly, it’s a great way to
build credit history. It’s a heck of a lot more convenient than
cash—in fact, a little too convenient sometimes. Take care of that
shiny new piece of plastic!

コンピュータがこの会社に導入されつつあります。 Computers are being introduced into this company.

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Blast from the past

July 29, 2005 - Categories: emacs, planner

If you want to know what I’ve been up to all this while, check out
2004, 2003, 2002,
2001. <laugh> planner-notes-index.el does all the magic.

近年では、電子コンピュータがますます重要になってきた。 In recent years electronic computers have become increasingly important.

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Being Filipino

July 31, 2005 - Categories: filipino, friends, party, philippines

Saturday night’s barbecue with Sol Laforteza was _the_ best evening
I’ve had in Canada so far, and I owe so very much to Dr. Oposa for
introducing me to their wonderful family.

It was amazing how quickly they took me in and made me feel welcome.
Upon hearing that I’d graduated from Ateneo, no fewer than three
Atenistas started chatting with me about our alma mater. Then there
were questions about high school, grade school (turns out a number of
them had also been associated with St. Scholastica’s College), the
diabolo I brought… And of course, the brownies were a big hit.

What really made me melt, though, was how they repeatedly referred to
the Philippines as home. Even those who had moved as far back as 1988
still had very active connections with the Philippines, still thought
of retiring (or at least skipping the Canadian winter) in the
Philippines to teach. With all of our tsk-tsk-tsking over the
political messes the country gets itself into, there was still that
underlying pride in our country.

And oh, how Filipino we were last night. From discussions of
traditional delicacies to musings on the lyrical properties of deep
Filipino, it was an evening celebrating our culture. Top it all off
with truly horrendous puns (like the name of an actual salon: Scissors
Palace), another Filipino specialty, and you’ve got a night to

I had a lot of fun teaching Gretchen how to do the diabolo, and by the
end of the night both she and Leslie could get it spinning pretty
quickly. Tito Gil made very passable and amusing attempts. He’s a
natural comic and performer, positively twinkling with energy and joy.
I’d like to be like that when I grow old! It’ll take me years to gain
the kind of ease and confidence he had, though… Amazing, really.

What a fantastic group of people! I’m really, really glad I had an
opportunity to meet them, and I hope to get to know them better over
the next couple of years.

そのコンピュータはかなり時代遅れだったので役に立たなかった。 The computer was so outdated that it was good for nothing.

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